Category Archives: Heart Disease

Is “evolutionary-concordance lifestyle” the new “paleo diet”?

From the March 6, 2021, European Journal of Nutrition:

Sedentary lifestyle NOT an option back then

Purpose:

Evolutionary discordance may contribute to the high burden of chronic disease-related mortality in modern industrialized nations. We aimed to investigate the associations of a 7-component, equal-weight, evolutionary-concordance lifestyle (ECL) score with all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

Methods:

Baseline data were collected in 2003-2007 from 17,465 United States participants in the prospective Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. The ECL score’s components were: a previously reported evolutionary-concordance diet score, alcohol intake, physical activity, sedentary behavior, waist circumference, smoking history, and social network size. Diet was assessed using a Block 98 food frequency questionnaire and anthropometrics by trained personnel; other information was self-reported. Higher scores indicated higher evolutionary concordance. We used multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate ECL score-mortality associations.

Results:

Over a median follow-up of 10.3 years, 3771 deaths occurred (1177 from cardiovascular disease [CVD], 1002 from cancer). The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HR) (95% confidence intervals [CI]) for those in the highest relative to the lowest ECL score quintiles for all-cause, all-CVD, and all-cancer mortality were, respectively, 0.45 (0.40, 0.50), 0.47 (0.39, 0.58), and 0.42 (0.34, 0.52) (all P trend < 0.01). Removing smoking and diet from the ECL score attenuated the estimated ECL score-all-cause mortality association the most, yielding fifth quintile HRs (95% CIs) of 0.56 (0.50, 0.62) and 0.50 (0.46, 0.55), respectively.

Conclusions:

Our findings suggest that a more evolutionary-concordant lifestyle may be inversely associated with all-cause, all-CVD, and all-cancer mortality. Smoking and diet appeared to have the greatest impact on the ECL-mortality associations.

Source: A novel evolutionary-concordance lifestyle score is inversely associated with all-cause, all-cancer, and all-cardiovascular disease mortality risk – PubMed

Steve Parker, M.D.

Some Diets Are Better Than Others at Lowering Blood Pressure

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet
Vegetarian: One cup of Waldorfian salad (search site for recipe)

Increasingly, I’m suspicious of results from meta-analyses. Anyway, here’s the abstract of one from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2020. In case you’re like me and not familiar with the LDL-lowering, vegetarian, “portfolio diet,” click for an infographic.

Background: Many systematic reviews and meta-analyses have assessed the efficacy of dietary patterns on blood pressure (BP) lowering but their findings are largely conflicting.

Objective: This umbrella review aims to provide an update on the available evidence for the efficacy of different dietary patterns on BP lowering.

Methods: PubMed and Scopus databases were searched to identify relevant studies through to June 2020. Systematic reviews with meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible if they measured the effect of dietary patterns on systolic (SBP) and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) levels. The methodological quality of included systematic reviews was assessed by A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Review version 2. The efficacy of each dietary pattern was summarized qualitatively. The confidence of the effect estimates for each dietary pattern was graded using the NutriGrade scoring system.

Results: Fifty systematic reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs were eligible for review. Twelve dietary patterns namely the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Mediterranean, Nordic, vegetarian, low-salt, low-carbohydrate, low-fat, high-protein, low glycemic index, portfolio, pulse, and Paleolithic diets were included in this umbrella review. Among these dietary patterns, the DASH diet was associated with the greatest overall reduction in BP with unstandardized mean differences ranging from -3.20 to -7.62 mmHg for SBP and from -2.50 to -4.22 mmHg for DBP. Adherence to Nordic, portfolio, and low-salt diets also significantly decreased SBP and DBP levels. In contrast, evidence for the efficacy of BP lowering using the Mediterranean, vegetarian, Paleolithic, low-carbohydrate, low glycemic index, high-protein, and low-fat diets was inconsistent.

Conclusion: Adherence to the DASH, Nordic, and portfolio diets effectively reduced BP. Low-salt diets significantly decreased BP levels in normotensive Afro-Caribbean people and in hypertensive patients of all ethnic origins.

Source: Efficacy of different dietary patterns on lowering of blood pressure level: an umbrella review – PubMed

Steve Parker, M.D.

High Glycemic Index Diet Linked to Cardiovascular Disease and Premature Death

Low glycemic index meal

Haven’t we know this for years? From a recent New England Journal of Medicine:

Most data regarding the association between the glycemic index and cardiovascular disease come from high-income Western populations, with little information from non-Western countries with low or middle incomes. To fill this gap, data are needed from a large, geographically diverse population.

METHODS

This analysis includes 137,851 participants between the ages of 35 and 70 years living on five continents, with a median follow-up of 9.5 years. We used country-specific food-frequency questionnaires to determine dietary intake and estimated the glycemic index and glycemic load on the basis of the consumption of seven categories of carbohydrate foods. We calculated hazard ratios using multivariable Cox frailty models. The primary outcome was a composite of a major cardiovascular event (cardiovascular death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure) or death from any cause.

RESULTS

In the study population, 8780 deaths and 8252 major cardiovascular events occurred during the follow-up period. After performing extensive adjustments comparing the lowest and highest glycemic-index quintiles, we found that a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with an increased risk of a major cardiovascular event or death, both among participants with preexisting cardiovascular disease (hazard ratio, 1.51; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.25 to 1.82) and among those without such disease (hazard ratio, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.11 to 1.34). Among the components of the primary outcome, a high glycemic index was also associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular causes. The results with respect to glycemic load were similar to the findings regarding the glycemic index among the participants with cardiovascular disease at baseline, but the association was not significant among those without preexisting cardiovascular disease.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, a diet with a high glycemic index was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

Source: Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality | NEJM

The paleo diet is low glycemic index.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Literature Review: Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Cavewomen didn’t have modern=make=up

From Iran and the journal Advances In Nutrition:

Abstract

There is some evidence supporting the beneficial effects of a Paleolithic Diet (PD) on cardiovascular disease risk factors. This diet advises consuming lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and avoiding intake of grains, dairy products, processed foods, and added sugar and salt. This study was performed to assess the effects of a PD on cardiovascular disease risk factors including anthropometric indexes, lipid profile, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers using data from randomized controlled trials. A comprehensive search was performed in the PubMed, Scopus, ISI Web of Science, and Google Scholar databases up to August, 2018. A meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model to estimate the pooled effect size. Meta-analysis of 8 eligible studies revealed that a PD significantly reduced body weight [weighted mean difference (WMD) = -2.17 kg; 95% CI: -3.48, -0.87 kg], waist circumference (WMD = -2.90 cm; 95% CI: -4.51, -1.28 cm), body mass index (in kg/m2) (WMD = -1.15; 95% CI: -1.68, -0.62), body fat percentage (WMD = -1.38%; 95% CI: -2.08%, -0.67%), systolic (WMD = -4.24 mm Hg; 95% CI: -7.11, -1.38 mm Hg) and diastolic (WMD = -2.95 mm Hg; 95% CI: -4.72, -1.18 mm Hg) blood pressure, and circulating concentrations of total cholesterol (WMD = -0.22 mg/dL; 95% CI: -0.42, -0.03 mg/dL), TGs (WMD = -0.23 mg/dL; 95% CI: -0.46, -0.01 mg/dL), LDL cholesterol (WMD = -0.13 mg/dL; 95% CI: -0.25, -0.01 mg/dL), and C-reactive protein (CRP) (WMD = -0.41 mg/L; 95% CI: -0.81, -0.008 mg/L) and also significantly increased HDL cholesterol (WMD = 0.05 mg/dL; 95% CI: 0.005, 0.10 mg/dL). However, sensitivity analysis revealed that the overall effects of a PD on lipid profile, blood pressure, and circulating CRP concentrations were significantly influenced by removing some studies, hence the results must be interpreted with caution. Although the present meta-analysis revealed that a PD has favorable effects on cardiovascular disease risk factors, the evidence is not conclusive and more well-designed trials are still needed.

Source: Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials – PubMed

An editorial expression of concern about the article:

The Editors have been alerted by a reader with concerns about this meta-analysis. Specifically, the reader noted discrepancies in reported effect sizes and time periods, as well as confidence intervals, none of which the reader was able to reproduce. The Editors have contacted the authors, who have addressed initial concerns. However, due to the extent of the material about which concerns have been raised, the Editors need additional time to re-review this article after corrections have been made.

In the interim, this expression of concern should be taken…

Steve Parker, M.D.

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For Type 2 Diabetes, Gastric Bypass May Improve Cardiac and Renal Outcomes

Steve Parker MD, bariatric surgery, gastric bypass

Band Gastric Bypass Surgery

From a recent Diabetes Care article:

Our data suggest robust benefits for renal outcomes, heart failure, and CV [cardiovascular] mortality after GBP [gastric bypass] in individuals with obesity and T2DM. These results suggest that marked weight loss yields important benefits, particularly on the cardiorenal axis (including slowing progression to end-stage renal disease), whatever the baseline renal function status.

Source: Renal and Cardiovascular Outcomes After Weight Loss From Gastric Bypass Surgery in Type 2 Diabetes: Cardiorenal Risk Reductions Exceed Atherosclerotic Benefits | Diabetes Care

Because of the risk of surgery, I’d make sure first that diet modification was seriously tried and failed.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk With Olive Oil

low-carb diet, diabetic diet, Paleobetic diet, balsamic vinaigrette,

I like this and use it. The lower left corner says “with EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL.” In order, the listed ingredients are water, balsamic vinegar, soybean oil and extra virgin olive oil, sugar…. 2 tbsp has 3 grams of carb. Which oil would you guess predominates? BTW, balsamic has the most carbs of all the vinegars. Ideally, make your own vinaigrette with EVOO and NO soybean oil. 

A new analysis of the Nurses Health Study confirms the headline above. Olive oil, of course, is a primary component of the healthy Mediterranean diet. From the American College of Cardiology:

Higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] and total CVD [cardiovascular disease] in two large prospective cohorts of US men and women. The substitution of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat with olive oil could lead to lower risk of CHD.

***

This study of well-educated health professionals is the first in the United States to show the relative value of higher intake of olive oil for preventing CHD and CVD. It was conducted in the era that margarine was primarily trans fatty acids and would not apply to the present soft and liquid margarines. The benefit attributed to olive oil is not simply the substitution for saturated fatty acid. The modest benefit of olive oil in the United States occurred at relatively low olive oil intake (average 12 g/day). In contrast, the Mediterranean diet generally has over 25 g/day. In European studies, a healthy cohort had a 7% reduction in CHD risk for each 10 g/d increase in olive oil; extra virgin olive oil reduced cerebrovascular events by 31% in a high-risk group, and regular olive oil was associated with a 44% lower risk of CHD after about 7.8 years in Italian women survivors of an MI. Amongst the benefits of olive oil include positive effects on inflammation, endothelial function, hypertension, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes.

Source: Olive Oil Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk – American College of Cardiology

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Low-Carb Diets Improve Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

This Shrimp Salad is truly low-carb

A meta-analysis by Chinese investigators found that low-carb diets improve cardiovascular risk factors. Specifically: body weight (lowered), triglycerides (lowered), HDL-cholesterol (raised), blood pressure (lowered systolic and diastolic, but less than 2 points).

Additionally, they found increases in total cholesterol  and HDL-cholesterol. Some consider those to be going in the wrong direction, increasing cardiovascular risk. The study authors, however, considered these increases “slight,” implying lack of real-world significance.

I’ll not fisk the entire research paper. Have a go at it yourself by clicking the link to full-text below.

The researchers included 12 randomized controlled trials in their analysis. They defined low-carb diets as having less than 40% of calories derived from carbohydrates. If you’re eating 2200 calories a day, 39% of calories from carb would be 215 g of carbs/day. That’s a lot of carb, and wouldn’t be much lower than average. I scanned the report pretty quickly and didn’t run across an overall average for carb grams or calories in the low-carb diets. The “control diets” had 45–55% of calories from carbohydrate.

Here’s the abstract:

Background

Low-carbohydrate diets are associated with cardiovascular risk factors; however, the results of different studies are inconsistent.

Purpose

The aim of this meta-analysis was to assess the relationship between low-carbohydrate diets and cardiovascular risk factors.

Method

Four electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, Medline, and the Cochrane Library) were searched from their inception to November 2018. We collected data from 12 randomized trials on low-carbohydrate diets including total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), triglycerides, and blood pressure levels, as well as weight as the endpoints. The average difference (MD) was used as the index to measure the effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on cardiovascular risk factors with a fixed-effects model or random-effects model. The analysis was further stratified by factors that might affect the results of the intervention.

Results

From 1292 studies identified in the initial search results, 12 randomized studies were included in the final analysis, which showed that a low-carbohydrate diet was associated with a decrease in triglyceride levels of -0.15mmol/l (95% confidence interval -0.23 to -0.07). Low-carbohydrate diet interventions lasting less than 6 months were associated with a decrease of -0.23mmol/l (95% confidence interval -0.32 to -0.15), while those lasting 12–23 months were associated with a decrease of -0.17mmol/l (95% confidence interval -0.32 to -0.01). The change in the body weight in the observation groups was -1.58kg (95% confidence interval -1.58 to -0.75); with for less than 6 months of intervention, this change was -1.14 kg (95% confidence interval -1.65 to -0.63),and with for 6–11 months of intervention, this change was -1.73kg (95% confidence interval -2.7 to -0.76). The change in the systolic blood pressure of the observation group was -1.41mmHg (95% confidence interval—2.26 to -0.56); the change in diastolic blood pressure was -1.71mmHg (95% confidence interval—2.36 to -1.06); the change in plasma HDL-C levels was 0.1mmHg (95% confidence interval 0.08 to 0.12); and the change in serum total cholesterol was 0.13mmol/l (95% confidence interval 0.08 to 0.19). The plasma LDL-C level increased by 0.11mmol/l (95% confidence interval 0.02 to 0.19), and the fasting blood glucose level changed 0.03mmol/l (95% confidence interval -0.05 to 0.12),which was not significant.

Conclusions

This meta-analysis confirms that low-carbohydrate diets have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors but that the long-term effects on cardiovascular risk factors require further research.

Source: The effects of low-carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors: A meta-analysis

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Paleobetic Diet provides roughly 60 grams/day of digestible carbohydrate.

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Is the Ornish diet really the most heart-healthy?

Pulmonary artery arrow is wrong

From Cardiovascular Business:

The Mediterranean diet has been eclipsed as the U.S. News & World Report’s best-ranked heart-healthy diet for the first time in a decade, nudged out of the top spot by the popular Ornish diet.

The Ornish diet—also ranked as the ninth-best overall diet in the 2020 report—was pioneered by physician Dean Ornish more than 40 years ago and restricts the consumption of fats, refined carbohydrates and animal proteins. It also emphasizes the importance of exercise and stress management in living healthfully.

Source: Ornish beats Mediterranean as best heart-healthy diet of 2020

I’ve always associated the Ornish diet with group therapy, meditation, and vegetarianism. But no mention of those in the linked article. I can’t remember the last time I met anybody doing the Ornish diet, it’s been that long. It was popular in the 1990s.

We don’t know how well he paleo diet ranks as a heart-healthy diet because it’s never been adequately tested as such.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Tea May Postpone Death and Prevent Heart Disease

One of my favorite green teas

For years we’ve been hearing about the potential longevity and cardiovascular benefits of green tea. If memory serves, most of the data comes from Japanese studies. Now a Chinese observational study finds 15–20% reductions in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and death, compared to non-tea drinkers. Most of the participants drank green tea, and they did so at least thrice weekly.

From the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology:

Using large prospective cohorts among general Chinese adults, we have provided novel evidence on the protective role of tea consumption on ASCVD events and all-cause mortality, especially among those who kept the habit all along. The current study indicates that tea might be a healthy beverage for primary prevention against ASCVD and premature death.

Source: Tea consumption and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: The China-PAR project – Xinyan Wang, Fangchao Liu, Jianxin Li, Xueli Yang, Jichun Chen, Jie Cao, Xigui Wu, Xiangfeng Lu, Jianfeng Huang, Ying Li, Liancheng Zhao, Chong Shen, Dongsheng Hu, Ling Yu, Xiaoqing Liu, Xianping Wu, Shouling Wu, Dongfeng Gu,

The researchers point out that results may not apply to non-Chinese populations.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t to Jan at The Low Carb Diabetic (click link for more details about the study)

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Diabetes Drug Dapagliflozin Reduced Cardiovascular Deaths and Worsening Heart Failure Even in Those Without Diabetes

 

Not dapagliflozin

The amazing thing about this research is that dapagliflozin 10 mg/day seemed to benefit patient who didn’t even have diabetes. Unfortunately, the abstract doesn’t mention how many non-diabetic patients were in the study.

Conclusion from the abstract:

Among patients with heart failure and a reduced [left ventricular] ejection fraction [under 40%], the risk of worsening heart failure or death from cardiovascular causes was lower among those who received dapagliflozin than among those who received placebo, regardless of the presence or absence of diabetes.

Source: Dapagliflozin in Patients with Heart Failure and Reduced Ejection Fraction | NEJM